As we mark World Health Day - which this year celebrates nurses and midwives - this week’s Player Blog presented by Enterprise Rent-A-Car comes from Oliver Farr, whose wife works on the front line in the fight against Coronavirus (Covid-19), and the current pause in his golfing career.
My wife, Joanna, is a nurse who has just returned from maternity leave to her normal ward in endoscopy and has been asked to move to A&E (Accident and Emergency) at Hereford County Hospital to help with the extra cases coming in to A&E and ICU (Intensive Care Unit). So right now, I need to focus on her, as her job is more important than mine and I will be there to support her as she has supported me over the years. It takes away my worries about golf as I am more worried about her.
We have been married for five years and together for 13 years, so she has seen me come through the amateur ranks, turn pro and be on and off the Tour the last few years. I have also seen her go to university and go through various roles in the NHS - from the wards, to A&E, to the district as a community nurse and then, after our first child, to specialist nursing in endoscopy, which she really enjoys. But she has now been asked to move back to A&E as she has had experience dealing with those that need emergency care. This last week she has been back doing training to get her eye back in. Trying to deal with it all is the main thing for us right now.
So many people, not just Joanna but other people we know, are being asked to put themselves forward and it is incredibly brave. Joanna keeps telling me this is what she signed up for and knew if something like this was to occur, she would have to go and help. But I certainly didn’t think about that when she was training. I am incredibly proud of her and everyone in the NHS. We are so lucky to have that service. It is nice to see everyone getting behind it now and hope going forward people will appreciate what they do a lot more.
Just dropped Jo at the hospital to start her shift. Not sure when she will be called up to A&E or ITU to help the fight against this. This is more important to post rather than me chipping in the back garden. Golf can take a back seat for the time being! #StayHomeSaveLives pic.twitter.com/MShmyLgZsU— Oliver Farr (@oliverfarr25) March 23, 2020
Since I was 14, I have focused everything on golf with a daily plan and yearly plan on what I am doing, and at the moment I have no plan of golf.
It is just strange right now. Since I was 14, I have focused everything on golf with a daily plan and yearly plan on what I am doing, and at the moment I have no plan of golf. We don’t know when we will start again and there are so many things up in the air. The unknown is a bit weird. I am almost 32 and have had these plans for 17 years so to have gone from knowing what I am doing every week or month to now not knowing when I am next playing is strange.
We have two young boys, George who is 3 and a half and Jack who will be one at the end of April, so they are pretty full on. All my time is focused on them. Their day care is not open now – Jack had just started nursery with Joanna going back to work and George went to pre-school three days a week. He is learning so much there so I have had to think about how I can continue that and keep him entertained. When you can’t go out, you have to do things differently and I am really enjoying being with them. It is time I don’t think I will ever have with them again. I’ve not been through education myself for 15 years so I’m not sure how I am doing but we are trying to do little things every day to get George ready for school as we just don’t know how long this will last.
George likes golf but he also relates golf to me going away, which is true. We are lucky to have a nice garden and have been out in it a lot these last couple of weeks. He has some cut-down clubs and we were doing some putting yesterday – he is basically into everything and very active so does something for five minutes and then moves on to something else like kicking a football or riding his scooter around.
During the day when Joanna is at work the boys are my full attention. And when Joanna is home we try to do things together. So, in terms of golfing, it is not until the boys are in bed about 7.30pm that I do about half an hour putting in the garage and then half an hour exercise and that is it. I don’t have a net as yet but I’ve got an idea for a makeshift one.
Qatar at the start of March was my last event. I played a couple of times the following week as didn’t know what was going to happen but then once India got called off, I downed tools. I need to practice for something and I am a bit lost not knowing when my schedule will start again. I have things to work on technically but I am holding them off as I know, when I start working on something, I need to be out on the course playing rather than just working in a net.
I played really consistently last season and was looking forward to coming out this year, feeling like I had a better understanding of my game and where I am. I know a lot of the courses and the players and I was comfortable. I was ready to go, I felt this was a year to really get on with it and now we are sat here not knowing what will happen. Are we going to have a mad end of year cramming it all in? We just don’t know.
I feel for everyone related to the Tour. It is a mind-boggling scenario. There has been so much hard work put into the Tour to get it where it is and now we are. We will get some idea in the summer what will happen and then push on from there.
In terms of exercise, I have a trainer and we facetime every couple of weeks. He gives me a programme to stick to. I am not a massive fitness guy but there are things I can work on and if I can do something every night at home I am doing well and happy with that. I have a putting green, treadmill and weights in the garage so that works. The week when we came back from Qatar I sorted the garage out as I thought this could be for the long run and just gave myself some space – a golf corner in the house.
My dad, Graham, is my coach, my mentor. He played in a few European Tour events as a very good club pro, played in two Opens and played last year’s Senior Open. And I have been working with David Llewellyn the last four or five years more on the mental side. Dai is someone else to talk to. My Dad has been my coach since I could swing a club and have never been anywhere else, and Dai is part of the triangle as we can both talk to him. He brings that balance which helps the relationship with my Dad as well.
Mentally this time is hard. Every other sports professional is in the same boat – Olympians, footballers, tennis players, you name it – we are all thinking how do you keep going? I am thinking a lot about the things Dai says so I don’t spiral in the wrong direction mentally. I am lucky I have two kids to distract me from fact I am not playing, not practicing, not doing my job. This is my job now – making sure my two kids are entertained and learning and supporting Joanna. That is one of the things Dai taught me, to turn a positive from a negative and focus on what you are doing now. At the minute I am helping my kids to be the best they can be and supporting my wife. I am drawing on lot of the mental lessons of being a golfer. You have to be good mentally to play golf at this level and I am using that inner strength at this time.
For now the message is just stay at home. It is hard and will be hard for a while. We are lucky we have the technology to be able to speak to people, Facetime every day with family and friends. I never used to Facetime but now speaking to my grandparents every couple of days on Facetime and that is amazing. We just have to stay home and save lives.
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